It’s always risky to book an early December ski trip; you’ll never know what the conditions will be like. But the stars were aligned during a recent getaway to Deer Valley in Utah, with plenty of fresh snow falling in the days leading up to our arrival. The soft powder and sunny skies were a promise of another exceptional ski season in the West.
Deer Valley in Park City is a popular alternative to some of the out-of-the-way Colorado resorts, as it’s just a quick 40-minute shuttle ride from Salt Lake City International. It’s one of about 10 ski resorts in the greater region, with the two primary offerings in Park City being Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort, which now also includes Canyons Village.
The snow continued to fall as we made our way on a Friday afternoon to Goldener Hirsch, which we’d be calling home for the next few days. Frequently lauded as one of the country’s best boutique ski resorts, it was built on the last tract in Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Village. Since 1992, it has been owned and operated by the Eccles family, whose roots in Utah date back to the 1800s.
The resort’s Bavarian design was inspired by the family’s trips over the decades to the original Hotel Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg, Austria, and features spectacularly ornately carved wood furniture and art and antiques from the Eccles’ private collection.
There are just 18 rooms and suites as part of the inn. A significant renovation and expansion added 40 condominiums in 2020. A year later, Auberge Resorts Collection was selected to manage the property. The luxury hotelier’s touch was apparent from the minute we walked in the door.
We stayed in a stunning two-bedroom, three-bath suite that came with every amenity one could want—fireplaces in the bedrooms and top-of-the-line appliances, a furnished balcony (that was swept clean of snow every morning)—and then some—two words: heated floors.
After unpacking and getting settled, I headed to one of the resort’s signature activities: a Bavarian pretzel-making class. The Goldener Hirsch is known for its world class pastry team, and its pretzels are among the stars of the show. During the two-hour experience, held in the resort’s Antler Lounge, I made a traditional twist-shaped pretzel and one that looked like a holiday wreath. I’ve never been much of a baker, so I was delighted that both turned out perfectly—deliciously fluffy on the inside and just the right crunch on the outside—a far cry from my only other pretzel-making experience: using an Easy Bake oven as a child.
The pretzels made for a terrific appetizer before dinner at the resort’s in-house restaurant, which marries Bavarian specialties with local produce and meats. Along with the restaurant’s popular fondues—cheese or chocolate—menu standouts include wiener schnitzel with cranberry orange chutney or duck breast paired with a beet puree.
We returned to the restaurant the next morning for breakfast before hitting the slopes. From a cozy fireside table, we enjoyed expertly well-prepared basics—eggs, bacon, potatoes, and scrumptious bread. (All breads and pastries are made in-house.)
Located mid-mountain, the Goldener Hirsch is nearly a ski-in, ski-out resort, located just steps from the Sterling Express chairlift. Deer Valley makes skiers a priority; it limits the number of lift tickets sold each day and is one of just three venues in North America that doesn’t allow snowboarders. (The others are Alta Ski Area, also in Utah, and Vermont’s Mad River Glen.)
We skied all levels of runs during our time in Deer Valley, but my favorite was a long green cruiser named Homeward Bound. The long trail offers spectacular views at the top—ideal for photo ops—and the lower section meanders through towering trees.
We rewarded ourselves afterward by enjoying Goldener Hirsch’s après ski experience—an outdoor, heated venue where you can look up at the slopes from cherry-red Adirondack chairs. We had worked up quite an appetite and started with the Tiger Prawns before moving on to the Golden Stag Slider Trio (topped with cheddar and Utah fry sauce, teriyaki glaze and red cabbage slaw, and tzatziki sauce with arugula, accompanied by crisp garlic fries), and the delicious Utah Lamb and White Bean Chili (topped with chive crème fraiche and served with buttermilk cornbread).
There’s an extensive drink list featuring both cold and hot options, including a selection of spritzes, Hefeweizen and other beers, designer hot cocoa (topped with house-made marshmallows, chocolate tuille, and Chantilly cream), Gluwein (hot spiced mulled wine—my favorite), and The Goldener, a warm concoction made with mezcal, house-made apple cider, lime, and Cointreau).
If hanging out at the rooftop hot tub and pool (which looks very much like the clear, glass box at The Joule in Dallas) is more your style, you’ll find no shortage of things to eat and drink there, too. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner, with extensive food and beverage menus to match.
Available options range from Bratwurst Sandwich or Smoked Trout Roullette on Sourdough to roasted chicken breast with winter black truffle pommes puree and honey-glazed carrots. There’s also a wide range of craft coffees, including gingerbread or Toblerone lattes. And if you save room for dessert, make the gourmet apple strudel a priority; it’s made with cardamom diplomat crème, goat cheese mousse, and fennel ice cream.
We ended the day with a Sound Bath Experience for Two—a unique activity I’d expect to see in someplace like Sedona but was pleasantly surprised to find at Goldener Hirsch. We meditated to the pure sounds of seven quartz crystal bowls, tuned to the frequency of the seven chakras, with hands-on support from our talented guide. Having fallen into a deep, blissfully relaxed state, I slept like a baby that night.
The next morning, we grabbed breakfast again at the in-house restaurant. This time, I opted for sweet versus savory and tried the Apple Pie Oatmeal, a simple but delicious mix of oatmeal, caramelized apples, toasted hazelnuts, and Utah honey. It was the perfect foundation before heading out the door for another gloriously sunny day on the slopes.